Interview on Pen to Paper

*This originally posted here, but I will put it below as well.

Marie Lavender

Welcoming Author Marie Lavender to Pen To Paper with her Historical Romance novel titled, ‘Upon Your Return.’

One lucky reader who leaves a comment after reading this wonderful interview will WIN either a PDF or Mobi file of Marie Lavender’s book.


Marie Lavender lives in the Midwest with her family and three cats. She has been writing for over twenty years. She has more works in progress than she can count on two hands. She majored in Creative Writing in college because that was all she ever wanted – to be a writer. While there, she published two works in a university publication, and was a copy editor on the staff of an online student journal. After graduating from college, she sought out her dream to publish a book.

Since then, Marie has published sixteen books. Marie Lavender’s real love is writing romances, but she has also written mysteries, literary fiction and dabbled a little in paranormal stories. Most of her works have a romantic element involved in them. Upon Your Return is her first historical romance novel. Marie’s other books include Hard to Get, Memories, A Hint of Scandal, Without You, Strange Heat, Terror in the Night, Haunted, Pursuit, Perfect Game, A Touch of Dawn, Ransom, A Misplaced Life, Express Café and Other Ramblings, Ramblings, Musings and Other Things, and Soulful Ramblings and Other Worldly Things.

What advice can you give to writers breaking into the publishing world?

Learn everything you can about writing. Read as much as you can about how to write. But, read lots of books too. Most of all, just write. Only by writing can you learn the craft. Don’t be afraid to bend the rules a little either. Only you know your story or manuscript the best. Only you know the vision, and where you want it to go. Don’t let anyone else destroy that.

What genre does your book fall under and the audience you are seeking to attract?

My current release is a historical romance. I hope to attract all romance readers, and maybe some people that don’t normally read the genre either.

Do you write in any other genre, or would you?

I have written literary fiction, romantic suspense, paranormal romance and some mysteries.

Tell us about your writing environment?

I write in different places. Sometimes I write in my bedroom. Sometimes I write outside. It really depends on where the mood strikes me. I always keep a pen and notebook on hand no matter where I am just in case I get an idea.

When did you first start writing and why?

I have been writing stories since the age of nine. I am still not sure why it happened, but I just started writing and really haven’t stopped since.

How did you research this book?

I researched a lot of Upon Your Return online, but I also did some of the research in local and university libraries.

Where do your ideas come from?

Who knows? Maybe I just snatch them out of the ether. Maybe the muse just visits me from time to time. However, I think we can be influenced by our environment, by what we read or see. And our experiences can heavily influence our work. I think my experiences bleed through in my books.

If you had to be something other than a writer, what would it be?

I would want to be around books. At one time, I actually thought it would be pretty great to own a bookstore. That still isn’t a bad idea. I would want to be exposed to the written word in some capacity. If I didn’t write, I don’t think that inclination would leave me.


Please in 300 words give a Synopsis of your book?

Fara Bellamont has been back in society for a year after leaving Cluny Abbey, where her uncle sent her long ago. When he chooses a suitor for her for marriage, she fears that she will be forced to marry a stranger and live a miserable life. But, Fara finds herself thrust into an adventure of a lifetime when unforeseen circumstances cause her to place her trust in a strange man for protection. His intervention not only saves her, but puts her in an even more compromising position. Grant Hill, a trading captain, is enchanted by the young heiress not only because of her beauty, but because she is hardly conventional. Underneath her ladylike exterior lies a tigress. Grant cannot help but offer his protection as she is in need and he is far from immune from her charms. Fara just never bargained on the passion that she feels for Grant Hill. As events unfold, she must decide whether her desires and the dictates of her heart should trump the rules of society…

Does writing make you want to branch out into the field of publishing other people’s books?

Yes, definitely. I would love to start a publishing company and help other writers get their books out there.

Do you feel that writing courses are beneficial?

After majoring in Creative Writing in college, I would say yes. They are very helpful. I always took an interest in creative writing. And the classes were beneficial to a degree. However, I don’t think they prepare you entirely for what to expect. It is only one aspect of writing. I believe these skills can be self-taught as well. If an individual really wanted to be a writer, he could pour over all the self-help books and all of the articles out there. There is a lot of advice to use. I think that if you truly want to be a writer, the drive is inside of you. That means the talent is in there too. Sure, you can hone your skills to the best of your ability, but writing like everyone else doesn’t really do any good. You have to find your own voice.

We often talk of muses in the writing process, is there someone in your life that if you were to write a dedication, be foremost in your mind.

My fiancé is my constant inspiration. He is talented and driven, and he is always encouraging me, even when I have somehow lost my way.

What authors have inspired you to write?

The first historical romance novel I ever read was Catherine Coulter’s Devil’s Embrace. That definitely inspired me. Of course, I read other authors after that. I have always read Nora Roberts. When I was younger, there were certain YA books that inspired me too. When I was 13, I read Annette Curtis Klause’s The Silver Kiss. It was a story about a girl and the vampire she fell in love with. That really started my fascination with paranormal romance. So, I was definitely inspired by a lot of authors.

When did you first discover that writing the book was the easy part of being an author and the really, hard part was everything after that?

Well, I don’t think I discovered that until recently. I still have to say that writing a book is not easy, but what comes later is a definite challenge. My first historical romance took many years to write so that will always seem hard to me. My sequel, which I recently finished, was easier to write though. The rest of it – editing the manuscript (before and after acceptance), writing your own blurb, the marketing – is very hard. Of course, the list is more detailed than that. There are many challenging parts to it. What comes after the writing process makes the journey seem easy. I think, as authors, there are times that we wish we could go back to when writing was the only concern. But, the industry has changed and there are so many roles an author has to take on. A published writer is not just a writer, but a business person.

How do you plan the framework for your storyline?

In the beginning, when the book is just a seed, I am less organized. The ideas come out as scenes in different order. One day, I could write the beginning and the next, I’m writing the end before the middle is even finished. The muse is a funny thing. Of course, I have a basic idea of how the plot will go, but the “stuffing” of the book hasn’t been filled in yet. At some point, I get disgusted with the disorganization and I write an outline for the book. Then I start filling in the missing pieces. During the process, I make a list of what should be researched, what scenes I need to work on, et cetera. That motivates me to keep going. Without that, I fear not much would be accomplished. I just have too many other projects in my head so I have to force myself to focus on one book at a time.

Can you remember the first few titles of the books you read as a child?

Not really. The only ones that stand out to me are the Choose Your Own Adventure stories. I used to love those. Now, I think that I loved them because it appealed to the writer in me. I got a kick out of the fact that you could go back and choose a different direction, sort of like being the master of your own puppet show. And every time you did, it came out so unlike the one before. No matter what, though, the muse speaks for itself. As a writer, you may think you control the reins, but it is an illusion. The story knows where it’s going.

Do you need absolute quiet, with no distractions to write? Or are you happier with background noise to fill the quiet?

I prefer it to be quiet. Sometimes I will listen to music and write with it. And the music I play affects how I write.

What is your opinion on Beta Readers? Are they helpful or offering only self-opinions?

I think beta readers can be very helpful. It gives you an idea of how readers might receive your book even before it gets published. It’s definitely a good thing. Critique partners are also helpful, but I think you need a bit of both to polish your work.

What life experiences have influenced you first as a human being, then as a writer?

My romantic relationships in the past affected me. Obviously, I had to overcome some obstacles in that regard. You become less naïve, more wary of people. I think, however, that those experiences colored some of my stories. Let’s just say that cheating and abuse are pet peeves. I think that is why injustice really bothers me. I have also dealt with my fair share of familial loss. You may see some of those themes in my writing. Death is a natural part of life, however much we fear it. I don’t seek to isolate my characters, but it just seems to happen that way. I think that adversity builds character.

Tell us your experience with book covers and the choices you made to find the one you are happy with.
Fifteen of my books were self-published so a lot of care went into what covers I chose. For each one, I wanted to convey something essential to the story and the characters. I redesigned them all recently. Since I mainly write romance, I tried to make them seem like romance covers as well. Well, what do you normally see on romance novel covers? A couple in a passionate embrace? Well, I didn’t do that with many of them, but I did with a few. For the rest, I focused on the main character and what she looked like. Except for about five books, which all had a landscape motif. I think that overall, I accomplished what I was trying to do.

If you could write anywhere in the world. Where would it be?

Hmm. I would love to have a beach house. I would sit on the veranda overlooking the ocean and write with the white noise of the surf all around me.

Are there times when research is not necessary to tell a great tale?

I think it is pretty obvious when too much fact lags the flow of a story. I try to keep an eye out for that in my historical fiction. I don’t want to lose the reader. I want it to feel natural.

What’s in a name – The importance of the title of your book? How important is it compared to the cover imagery?

I believe a title is very important. The title should sum up the idea of the book, just like a cover should. I have always struggled with titles really so I usually ask someone who is impartial what they think of the title before I publish it.

Editing is vital! Do you do your own editing or do you feel that it is a necessary part of the process to send it away to a professional Editor?

Thus far, I have done my own editing. Of course, self-editing is not a great substitution for the touch of a professional. I have relied heavily on beta readers and critique partners to catch what I could not. With my current release, the publisher assigned me an editor and that turned out very well. I think it is really up to the author what he or she is comfortable with. And I know there are budgetary concerns for some.

Do you already know what to write next? Can you tell us?

My plan is to polish the sequel to Upon Your Return and send it off to the publisher. I also have a short story, a paranormal romance, I am polishing. I have plans to submit that to another publisher that is accepting short fiction. I also plan to release an anthology before the end of the year. It will be titled Miss Lavender’s Anthology of Ramblings. Beyond that, I am working on a romantic suspense with another writer, titled Certain Death. And I will work on the third book in the Heiresses in Love series after that. I have plans for other series as well.

Do you have only one WIP, or do you bounce around between projects?

I tend to bounce around. Sometimes that’s what keeps me sane. If I feel my creative juices start to ebb, I will revisit one of my works in progress and add to it.

Do you write under a nom de plume?

I have used many pen names besides Marie Lavender. I have books published under Erica Sutherhome, Kathryn Layne and Heather Crouse.

How important is it for you to keep your life as a writer and your private life separate?

This is very important to me. They are two separate things.

Are you an introvert or an extrovert?

I have to admit I have always been rather shy. So definitely an introvert.

If you could go back in time, to any timeline who would it be and why?

I would want to go back to Regency England. I find the time of Jane Austen fascinating. I love reading historical romances, and I love watching the movies as well.

What music are you listening to lately?

I recently got OneRepublic’s last CD, Native.

Do you have problems with the process of editing and slashing? What is your view on this very important part of writing?

I think that, as writers, we always find more we want to change or do in our books. It is never good enough. At the same time, there are pieces we hang onto, sections that we “fall in love with”, so to speak, just like when we fall in love with our characters. Without an impartial view, it is hard to step back and see it objectively. I definitely need to see it from other perspectives. That way, I know if I have missed anything.

What advice do you have for new writers breaking into such a competitive marketplace?

Never give up. The road isn’t easy, but just don’t give up. Be persistent and toughen your shell. You will meet with resistance of all kinds.

Tell us a little about your WIP.

The sequel to Upon Your Return is titled Upon Your Honor. I don’t want to give too much away. Spoilers! But, I will say this. Upon Your Honor is Gabriel’s story. It also introduces the reader to a new character, Chloe. And Chloe is a strong young woman who will, I hope, burrow her way into readers’ hearts the way she did mine.

If you could switch places with one of your characters would you?

If I had that ability, I might switch with Fara Bellamont from Upon Your Return. She gets to be on La Voyageur, Captain Hill’s ship. And she gets to see France. Both of these are things I wouldn’t mind doing. I have always wanted to do a lot of traveling.

Purchase Links

Other Links